“To object is not the same as to reject”.
In sales, objection and rejection are a daily occurrence. It’s important to remember that “no matter how great your offering is, there will be objections to it”.
So let’s learn how to handle them.
What is a sales objection?
An objection is an explicit expression from a prospect that a barrier exists between the current situation and what they need to engage your services. A prospect who will never buy from you is not thinking to object, they just want to end the conversation.
Knowing that sales objections are only offered by engaged prospects means that there is hope. So the need to develop probing techniques to uncover the source of the objection should be at the top of a sales person’s mind.
A sales objection is not a rejection; it is simply a request for more information.
– Bo Bennett
Why prospects object?
According to Dave Buster, “the first objection is rarely the real issue”, in fact, you have to probe around and dig deeper to discover what lies beneath. If you reframe your thinking, you will see that the objection is a sign that you haven’t sold enough value to your client (or at least, that you are not speaking with the right person).
Clients might also object based on the fact that they don’t feel that it is a right match for them. It is only by asking questions that you can help to provide insight into how you can improve what you offer. And then by relaying it back to them, you to make sure that they agree that you understand their issue.
Typical sales objections which sales people face:
Depending on your industry and the type of people you are dealing with, the content of the objections may vary. But there are some constant underlying factors which pop up.
Price is by far one of the most common sales objections but even this is not straightforward.
Objecting to the price can be a mask for any of the following:
- Value: You simply have not sold enough value to the individual – the value of what you are selling must clearly exceed the price you’re charging.
- Authority: You are not speaking with the correct person who has the ability to release funds. Larger companies may rely on purchasing managers to make purchasing decisions. As a result, the person who you are selling to may not know how to buy or how to bring a request to buy to their CFO.
- Problem: The client does not see the scale of the problem facing their business.
- Confidence: The client is not confident in the proposed outcome of your solution.
“The sales objections you receive are not always indicative of what you think they are.
– Christiano Ferraro
Many other sales objections follow a similar pattern where the underlying reason is not obvious at first. But they usually focus around the following four issues:
- Need: The client does not see the need or urgency to solve this business problem. Their current solution may ‘work fine’ or they may just be resistant to acknowledging the need for change.
- Time: The feeling that it is not the right time or they are “too busy with other tasks” to make the purchase. Your client may “need time to think about it” or may just not be in the market right now.
- Credibility / trust: Your solution might seem right but the client may not know you or your company and may not trust that you can fulfill your obligations. Your company may be too new for them to take a chance or be associated with bad comments / reports.
- Wrong decision maker: You could be speaking with someone who does not have the ability or authority to allocate funds or make the final decision. They may wish to conceal this fact, or use it in a bid to secure a cheaper price to show their superiors.
How to handle sales objections?
At its most basic, a sales objection is a call for more information or clarification. Every sales person will have their own approach to handling them. More often than not, the approach used across will have elements which can be attributed to following frameworks; ACT, ACAC and Hubspot’s LAER model. Using these as a base, we can derive 5 key steps for handling any objection:
5 steps for handling sales objections:
- Listen: Listen to the objection and fight the urge to respond immediately.
Use active listening to show the client that you are engaged with what they are saying. Active listening involves smiling, making eye contact, sitting upright, nodding your head, engaging and summarizing what is being said to you.
- Acknowledge: Acknowledging helps to build a rapport with the client and shows empathy for their situation. This lets the client know that you will listen to what they say they want and you are willing to work towards a common goal.
- Clarify: Every clarification breeds new questions and with these questions we can dig down deeper into understanding the client’s problems. Clarification of the client’s position ensures that we see the world from their point of view and to make a clear and informed judgement on this. When you clarify you are making sure that you understand their reason for objecting so you can help to overcome it.
- Feed the objection back to them: After clarifying the points, feeding the objection back to the client makes sure that you are on the right track. If they agree with you, then you can be confident that you are addressing the correct issue. Using the feel, felt, found technique can work wonders here also.
- Trial close: You can use a trial close if you are confident of overcoming their objections to see if this is really the issue. For example, asking: “Mr/Ms X, if we overcome objections Y & Z, would you buy?” If the answer is yes, then proceed to work through the issues, if not you need to decide to start again asking questions or to call it quits on this client.
Pro tip: Every time you do a sales pitch and receive an objection, take note of it and if it’s popping up regularly, try to work the answer into your pitch for the next client.
Common responses to the most frequent objections:
The first steps towards incorporating objection handling into every presentation is to research, expect and prepare. If you’re still establishing an understanding within your client base, asking questions will shed more light on the situation. As you become more experienced, specific objections will begin to show up on a regular basis. So now you can begin to customize your response for these:
Handling specific objections:
Taking the typical underlying objection categories from above, we can prepare answers to specific objections to help get started. As Robert Hartline states:
The top 1% of the best sales people have a clear understanding of the exact response to the top 8 objections your prospects will have.
Your job is to understand and then prepare your response:
- I’m not interested (Need): Ask questions about your client’s business to uncover problems which you can solve. Use the SPIN Selling Technique to develop the problems and their implications, showing how your solution will help.
- I don’t have enough money (Authority / Value / Price): Explain the benefits of your offering and that the value returns which will help your client’s business. State specific benefits. For example; increasing revenue by X%, increased influence or saving X amount of time.
- I don’t need it (Need): Be alert to the needs of your client. Don’t try to push more on them than they need. Do they need more space, more time, better methods, or just the basics?
- My old one is good enough (Need / Value / Problem): Ensure that your client has correct product knowledge. Using SPIN Selling Technique, try to identify problems with their current system and how they impact the customer’s business / efficiency. Demonstrate the savings possible or projected increase in revenue from switching to yours.
- I can’t decide (Authority / Value / Need): Eliminate excess information. Focus on the key points of contention for the client and answer their questions on each. If you have multiple offerings, offer your personal preference, if the client asks.
- I’ll think about it (Time / Value / Authority): Don’t let the client leave without providing specific facts and figures with which they can compare. Agree a Next Action with them and offer a day and time where you will personally be available to discuss it.
- It’s just not for me (Value): Show proof that having your product gives your customer greater advantage, potential, and possibilities than not having it. Be honest, but do what it takes in devising how to handle objections. Let your client know that you will make it happen for them.
- We’re not in the market now (Time / Authority): This is a good opportunity to ask questions around when they expect to be back in the market and to encourage them to take a head start by doing the research now. You could go as far as to offer a special pricing plan if budget is really an issue at this point. For example, if they do not have funds for another 6 months, offer an 18 month deal instead of 12 where they sign the contract not but do not have to pay for the first 6 months.
Once you have an initial list of answers built up, it’s just a matter of just refining and practicing your approach to sales objection handling until it becomes seamless and natural.
Turning sales objections into a yes:
Champion sales people understand that hearing no is part of getting to yes. Average sales people let every nuance of the word no strike them like arrows and deflate the rest of their sales presentations. If you follow a structured approach and do not take rejection personally then this is the best you can do.
If this still does not result in a sale, then maybe it is time to cut your losses and move on to another prospect. Always remember to end on a positive note with an existing client, even if they have rejected your offering on this occasion. You never know what the future might bring business wise for them.
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